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Supreme Court of Denmark

On the right to the Christiania area 

Case nos. 158/2009, 161/2009 and 203/2009
Judgment 18. February 2011
 

The Community of Freetown Christiania and a number of residents and enterprises etc.
vs
The Danish State, represented by the Palaces and Properties Agency

On the right to the Christiania area

The subject of the case was whether the Community of Freetown Christiania and the individual residents and enterprises have a right to use the areas and buildings within the Christiania area which the authorities cannot terminate due to the Christiania Act.

The Supreme Court noted that in Supreme Court Judgment of 2 February 1978 (U 1978.315H), it was held that neither the Community nor individuals had then acquired rights to the Christiania area which could prevent the Ministry of Defence from demanding that the area be cleared. With regard to the subsequent period, the Supreme Court noted that the Community and the individual residents and enterprises had not acquired a permanent right of use to the areas and buildings within the Christiania area by the so-called poster of 1 June 1979 which permitted temporary use of the area or the statements etc. from various politicians during the 1980s. Up to the adoption of the Christiania Act in 1989, the residents etc. enjoyed a temporary right to stay in the area and use the buildings.

Based on the Christiania Act of 1989, the Ministry of Defence and the Community concluded collective framework agreements during the period from 1992 to 2004 on the residents' continued use of the area. The most recent agreement expired according to its terms on 1 July 2004. In 2004, the Christiania Act was amended. On this basis, on 30 June 2004, the Palaces and Properties Agency terminated the collective right of use to the areas and buildings within the Christiania area for expiry on 1 January 2006. At the same time, the Agency gave the individual residents and enterprises permission to continue to use the areas and buildings within the Christiania area after 1 January 2006 for a period of 18 months. However, this period was shortened for some individuals for specific reasons.

The Supreme Court held that the right of use granted to the Community by the Danish State pursuant to the framework agreements was not unlimited in time, and the termination of the Community's right of use was in accordance with the Christiania Act. It did not involve compulsory acquisition and was not in contravention of the European Human Rights Convention. In addition, the Supreme Court did not find any reason to consider that any of the individual residents and enterprises had acquired a right of use separate from the collective right of use by an agreement with or permission from the Danish State. The individual rights of use, thus, stemmed from the Community's framework agreements with the Danish State, for which reason the individual residents and enterprises could not acquire a prescriptive right separately vis-à-vis the Danish State.

Finally, the Supreme Court held that the residents had been given reasonable notice, and that they were not entitled to a longer notice period than that provided. The termination of the individual residents' and enterprises' right of use was in accordance with the Act, it did not involve any compulsory acquisition and was not in contravention of the European Human Rights Convention or the Danish Constitution.

The High Court had reached the same conclusion.

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